Marc and Angie, page 1
Marc and Angie
A Life After War Backstory
by Angela White
© 2016 Angela White
All rights reserved
Angela White, Life After War © 1991
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment. Copyright laws apply. Made in the United States.
This work of fiction is loosely based on a true story.
What does that mean?
Some of it is real and some of it isn’t.
What parts are real?
Here are three:
Marc and Angie exist. So do Frona, Georgie, mother Brady, and the cast of characters. Even Ticker is real, though I think old age would have taken him by now. It’s been many years and time is rarely a friend.
The locations, including the clubhouse, did exist. Progress and nature covered some of them over the decades, but I bet hard evidence could still be found. It would be a bit like an excavation at a forgotten site from history. There would be broken tools and charred pottery, remnants of a life spent there...but the ghosts probably wouldn’t just leave our shoulders when we finished digging up those old bones. In so many ways, it is cursed ground.
The events are documented facts. I have taken liberties with the dates. That prevents it from being historical fiction, along with it not being 50 years or more in the past. As a result, it made picking a category difficult for this title. I’ve chosen ‘coming of age’ because that’s what happened in the grand scheme of things. During all of those wonderful, awful moments, Marc and Angie grew up.
What isn’t real?
You’ll have to decide that for yourself, but personally, I still believe in magic. It swirls around every word I put onto paper, carrying the potential to be amazing or terrible. If I can’t see something, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there and I’m wise enough to accept that fact, even if I don’t like it. The world is scarier without my glasses.
Anything else a reader should know?
This story is told from multiple, shifting povs. If you don’t like first-person writing, you won’t like this book. Do us both a favor and skip it. Also, if you haven’t read my Life After War series, you may not understand what is going on. This is a backstory, written to satisfy the fan demand (It’s my honor!) and there is NOT a happy ending. Please don’t expect one.
Do Marc and Angie–
No more questions. I’ll be on the other side to offer comfort when you finish this journey. Hang on to me tightly while I bring the winds of change to take us into the past. We’re searching for Marcus Brady and Angela White...
Table of Contents
Cookies for Apples
Alone in a Crowd
Those Long Months
The Best Days
Twisting and Turning
Like a Bad Penny
Coming of Age
Leaves of Change
Rolling Faster Now
Risk VS Reward
Paying the Piper
Life After War
I think you should know a few things about me before we get into the meetings and moments you came for. The first is that I’m lonely. Growing up, I spent almost every second that way. Existing in a home where there was only indifference and coldness caused me to long for someone who could brighten my life before I was even old enough to recognize friendship as a need. Isolated and forced to deny who I was, I lived a very different life from the other kids in our small-town, Ohio neighborhood.
The second thing you should be aware of is how badly my mother crushed my faith with her rabid hatred of our heathen roots. Despite being the grandson of Roma immigrants, I was raised Christian. Everything changed after my dad abandoned us, from clothes and furnishings, to our regular attendance of every choir meeting, prayer chain, and baptism that we were invited to. Instead of the wild freedom to explore the world that I’d had for the first years of life, there were now crosses and plaques, and so many scripture lessons that I got lost in them. Some of it made sense, but most of it went against the beliefs that I had already been learning. My constant companion during the adjustment years was confusion. Why had my life flipped? Where had my mom gone? Even her name had changed. She’d once been Rosemary, but now, I had to call her Mary or mother Brady. Why had she been replaced with this hateful matriarch? Why had my dad left? Instead of love and family, I now had the new business of selling things to anticipate for my future. We had to be respectable, not heathen trash, and I struggled with it for a decade.
Left without a choice, I said the words and went through the motions, but I didn’t care about our roots the way my mother did. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in a higher power. I just didn’t know which one to pick–our natural heritage or the new lifestyle that didn’t fit me. I loved our forbidden culture, (the small bits I’d been able to keep learning behind her strict back) but I didn’t cross my mother openly. I knew who the boss was.
As I grew older, it was impossible not to think that I was being tested with temptation by both sides of my life–religion and love. If that was the case, then I failed more of the trials than I won, but some things are a fire in your blood and nothing can ever change that.
The last thing you need to know about me is that I was determined to escape. I had decided that I would have a different future than those around me. I would be a Marine, a hero who helped people and was respected for it. My determination to get out saw me through the early mornings that began on my knees, praying to a deity that I hadn’t even heard of until my dad left.
The rest of our clan seemed to love the new system, especially the men. They were sent away to learn the business, which allowed for months of unsupervised exploration of the world. It was mother’s way of convincing the males who were too old to be cowed like I was, and it succeeded. How to sell things and be respectable, that’s what the Brady’s became known for. Not for being gypsy spawn, as my mother referred to those who refused to hide our heritage.
Mary Brady hated anything that reminded her of our caravan history. For one of the family to flaunt it openly was a sin never forgiven. We had relatives that were missing from the holiday gatherings for years over breaches of her rules. Some were never allowed to return and others, like me, simply refused to go back under her thumb. Her own parents had been killed by an angry mob after an immigrant couple had robbed a bank and murdered a clerk in town. My grandparents had been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and it had given my mother a fear that had grown when my dad wiped out the accounts and abandoned us. From that moment on, she and everyone under her reign had to conform or they were driven out. Considering that she inherited all the family loan notices and property deeds in the divorce, there wasn’t much argument. In fanatical defense, my remaining parent grew into a cold person afraid to love or show emotion, even to her own children. Appearances were all that mattered. As a result, we didn’t have many feelings for her either, other than fear.
A house with no love was all that I’d ever known, and I didn’t understand the power of the warmth that I was missing. I just accepted that my elder brothers and sister held value, while I was a potential embarrassment waiting to happen. I stayed out of trouble as best
The only person I ever knew to challenge her and win was her brother. Georgie married without her approval, to a businesswoman who ran a rustic fortune telling shop as her cover for taking in male clients. It was exactly the type of person that my cold-as-ice parent hated. It shocked everyone when Georgie’s wife was officially allowed to enter our family and attend the gatherings and services. I never understood why my mother gave in, but I’ll always be grateful to her for that one thing. Because Georgie’s new bride had a little girl that I instantly felt something for. It wasn’t love at first sight, not at those ages, but it was just as powerful.
My time with Angie has been recorded in my mind under years and holidays. That’s how I view our past and every second is burnt into my brain. When you only get to see your reason for breathing a few times each year, you imprint every moment of it to hold you through those hundreds of other lonely days. It was like that for me from almost our first meeting. I gave Angie a part of my soul and I never really felt like it was enough to reward her properly for loving me back.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that life is full of terrible irony. Lying undetected on the fringes of our day-to-day schedules, it’s everywhere, but we rarely recognize it at that moment–like with the love that blindsided me. I had spent years waiting and longing for the time to come when I would be allowed to leave home, to finally escape my tyrannical mother. Then Angie filled my heart with her love and I hated it each time that I had to leave. Life is often splashed with irony, but it’s always streaked with pain.
There are things you need to understand about me, before my Brady takes us any deeper into hell. The most important is that I’m older than my age at any given time. I always have been. People might say it’s because of what I’ve been through during my life, but it’s really because of who I am, deep on the inside. I know things, even when I don’t want to. I guess I’ve had a lot of excitement, but I don’t mean the kind you giggle about with friends. I mean the kind of things you carry your whole life in shame–like my mom being a whore.
Don’t frown. It’s only the truth. I’ve been hearing it since I can remember. I can’t tell you how many of her friends patted my curls on the way out our door. That’s how I ended up with a stepfather and my first awful secret.
Georgie wants me...like a man wants a woman! He said I’m his prize for being a good man, but I don’t understand that. Georgie is big and loud, and likes to have me sit on his lap and wrestle. I don’t like him, but at least he doesn’t beat on me like he sometimes does my mom. I figured out if I don’t tell him no, he doesn’t get mad at me. I still get scared, though. He’s waiting for me to grow up and I have to pretend that I don’t know what he’s thinking. But I do.
That’s the second thing I’m hiding. I can hear people’s thoughts...yes, even yours. I talk to ghosts. Well, one ghost. The witch inside has been whispering to me for as long as I can remember. The neighborhood lady, Patty, told tell me my gift will get stronger as I get older. That’s scary, ‘cause it’s pretty strong now. It’s as if I have two rooms in my brain and both of them are constantly racing, questioning, or discovering. It lets me think twice as hard, for twice as long, without actually spending twice the time. But it can’t protect me.
My stepfather targeted me right away and as long as my mom doesn’t have to do anything but read her trashy books, she doesn’t interfere. I didn’t know if there was a deal between them, but as I got older and Georgie became more open about what he wanted, I suspected that she’d sold me out. I know she hates me. When your parent wishes you hadn’t been born, it’s kind of hard to miss.
I try not to listen to her and Georgie’s thoughts. People don’t like it when you can get into their head and I’ve learned to be very careful around them. I know how delighted Georgie would be. I would never get any peace from him. In my entire childhood, only a few people ever discovered that secret.
Being at home was a bad thing for me and I spent my time out exploring. Sometimes, when I was bored or upset, I would follow thoughts. I liked to track people down. On one of those adventures, I found a boy sitting in the rows of corn that lined one side of our trailer park. I’d followed his thoughts because they were a mirror of how I was feeling. This was someone like me. I’d never known that before.
The boy was scared and ashamed because he had to pretend that he wasn’t gypsy and because his family was so cold to him. He had all sorts of hard rules and he had to be around the right kind of people. Even at six, I knew that wasn’t me.
He stayed in the corn all day, sometimes muttering, but mostly quiet and thinking, trying to find an escape. It was how I spent most of my own time and the urge to come out was strong. It forged a bond that was unbreakable.
When he got up to leave, I was careful to stay still, but my heart called out to his. I didn’t want him to go.
And he looked at me! Or at least it felt that way and I realized I knew him. I’d noticed his picture on the wall of my new stepfather’s hallway. The boy was my family, a forbidden side of it that I hadn’t met yet. Despair, thick and smothering, settled over me.
The boy peered through the corn, trying to find me. His thoughts weren’t ugly, but when he came toward where I was, I left, not wanting him to know anyone had been there. What would I say to him?
Less than a week after first spotting Marc, I was trailing him around the neighborhood. I couldn’t resist whenever I picked up one of his thoughts. His mind was so soothing! It didn’t matter that he didn’t know I existed, or that his mother loathed gypsy kids or that my new stepfather had put his hands up my dress yesterday. As long as I got to see my Brady, I was okay.
He quickly became my unknowing light in the darkness. I would linger behind the bushes and watch him read on his porch or hang out with his approved friends in empty, weed-covered lots. In church, he would stare out the windows with an expression that I longed to ease with the comfort of my little arms. To say I was obsessed would be an understatement.
So, those were my burdens, my secrets. It was as if all nine planets had collided at my birth, creating an inescapable horror that followed me most of my life. Can you guess which secret I would have given up the quickest? My gift. The very thing that made me who I was.
Because hearing into people hurts! I get up and pass my mom’s door, hear her jealousy of my youth and my looks. Then I sit across from her husband and try to choke down a meal while he thinks of his plans to spy on me in the shower later or peak under the blankets while I sleep. To start every day that way! If I hadn’t known, I could have at least stolen a few hours of happiness without worrying over what was coming later.
As it was, I spent the years between four and eight in a blur of fear and loneliness, praying for someone to be my friend. When I finally found it, I couldn’t let go. I needed Marc and when I realized that he also needed me, I never looked back in my quest to make him mine. It’s a choice that I’ve never regretted.
Marc: age 11
Angie: age 8
“This is your uncle’s new wife. Frona.”
My mother’s tone told me she didn’t like the loudly dressed woman filling her doorway and I kept my voice cool when I replied, “Nice to meet you.”
The woman wasn’t large, but the colors of her skirt and top were confusing to me. We never had red or purple clothes in the house. Mother barely tolerated blue jeans.
“You must be Marcus.”
I knew not to put my hand out to her, but the fortuneteller didn’t notice the insult. Her greasy hair hung over her face, covering pasty skin that was rarely expose
“Maybe you can help me?” the woman asked.
I felt the matriarch beside me tense and kept my mouth closed. I wasn’t sure why this strange woman was here or why my mother wasn’t throwing her out, and it made me uneasy.
“Angie needs the bathroom. Can you take her?”
That one snort from my mother told me I shouldn’t agree. I opened my mouth to give directions instead, but a stunning little girl stepped from behind my new aunt and I gaped in fascination.
The girl was paler than paper, with tangled black curls that hung to her tiny waist and wide, blue eyes that glowed. I instantly knew she was my own kind, but I didn’t know how or why. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was that drew me so hard. It could have been how she looked at me, as if I was already hers or maybe how cute that little face was, but I’ve always suspected it was the warmth in her expression. I was helpless against it.
Her angelic voice snapped me into the cold reality of my world, where I felt the waves of disapproval filling the hall. Mother wasn’t happy.
“Come on.” I disobeyed the unspoken rules, knowing that I’d pay for it.
Mary watched us all the way down the long corridor, sharp gaze no doubt filled with surprised speculation. I’m almost certain that she began laying plans right then. I think that maybe she knew, observing that beautiful gypsy girl lead her least wanted child down the hall, that later, when we were older, there could be trouble. That’s the kind of parent she was–sharp, merciless.
I waited outside the door, wondering if I could escape my coming punishment until later. Mother wouldn’t let it go, but I could for a while. I wanted to be outside, away from here.
Standing there daydreaming, I’d almost forgotten why I was in trouble at all. When the bathroom door opened, I jumped.
She giggled and the sound of it drew a rare grin from me. She was a cute kid. Too cute for this family.
“S’okay.” I started to take her back.
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